I would say that the number one question I am asked by others is what is my favorite travel destination based on all my travels? That question is difficult to answer because there are different things I love about the forty-four countries I have visited. Some of my trips are to a country that I have visited previously, but when I return, I make sure to include at least one new place within that country during the trip. That being said, I am able to narrow down my answer to my top five favorite travel destinations.
How do I narrow down my choices? As a person always longing to discover new places, my barometer in determining a favorite destination is somewhere I want to return to over and over again. So, here is my list of the places I will return to as long as I can while sprinkling in new destinations as often as possible.
I originally was going to say that this list was in no particular order, but who am I kidding, Greece has my heart. The second I stepped foot on my first Greek Island, I was hooked. The turquoise water, the bright white buildings, the bright blue roofs, the people, and the food all play their part in making Greece my favorite destination.
My husband and I have visited Greece four times, twice with our boys. Aside from Athens, we have only visited the Greek Islands, but we will see more of the mainland in the future. I want to experience more than the islands. I want a deeper understanding of its culture and a connection with its people. Culinary experiences are one of the most important aspects of travel for me. The freshness and flavors of Greek food make it worth a trip even without all of the other perks, but once you add them in, you have the perfect travel destination.
If you have been reading this blog from the beginning, you know I have a very special relationship with Australia, especially with Sydney, Australia. My Australian grandmother met my American grandfather during World War II, married him, and then moved halfway across the world and landed in Georgia. My mom spent time in both countries growing up and then met my father on board ship during a visit to her mother’s homeland.
My parents spent a lot of time in Australia in the early years of their relationship, and we made our first trip as a family when I was in sixth grade and went again after I graduated from college. My sister and I decided to live in Sydney for a few months in our early 20’s and then travel up the coast for a few weeks. I have visited two more times since then and hope to take my family there in the next 1-2 years.
Why do I love Australia so much? It is not only because it is my heritage. It is because it is one of the most physically beautiful countries I have ever visited. Australia boasts some of the most scenic coastlines in the world, and the Sydney skyline is epic. Add to that, some of the most unique, yet adorable animals such as the koala, kangaroo, and wombat and the brazen Aussie charm of its people, it is easy to see why Australia is at the top of my 5 Favorite Travel Destination list.
I have yet to meet a person who does not like Italy. It is so easy to connect with the culture of Italy. It’s as if it hangs in the air and everybody who breathes it in has an instant connection with this land of pasta, wine, and Roman ruins. I am not an expert on architecture and could not tell you the first thing about the types of facades on the buildings in Italy, but I appreciate them. I appreciate the differences between the architecture of the different regions of Italy. I also appreciate the vast differences in the landscape for a country of its size.
As I sit here writing about Italy, I can hear the accordion music wafting through the air along the canals of Venice. I can see the Italians gently touching my twins on the head while saying “gemelli”. I can taste the homemade pasta of the Italian chef who also entertained our boys when they were being fussy during our meal. Italian affects the senses like no other country I have experienced. I have been there five times already, but I always know that another trip to Italy is possible at any moment!
Ok, I know, this is a cheat answer since it includes more than one country. Despite the differences in these countries, the vibe is very similar. The people are some of the loveliest I have ever come across. To be fair, I have not been to all Southeast Asian countries, but I am in love with the ones I have been to so far – Thailand, Vietnam, & Cambodia.
I did a tour here with a friend and loved it so much that my husband and I returned there for our honeymoon. We are taking our kids to Thailand in November for their first ever Asia trip.
I somehow ended up on the most perfect tour ever in Vietnam with my sister, my friend, and her sister. Everyone in this group from all over the world meshed perfectly. Even though I know there will never be a tour with a group as good as this one, I will group tour again!
Read More about our Vietnam group tour here.
While I have traveled to multiple destinations in Cambodia during my two separate trips, it is Siem Reap where I will travel again. Siem Reap is the access point for Angkor Wat, which is the most fascinating man-made complex I have ever seen. Learning about the history of the people who suffered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge during my trips to Cambodia really affected me. It is hard to understand that these atrocities occurred in my lifetime, yet I never learned about them in school. The fact that Angkor Wat survived the Khmer Rouge’s occupation of Cambodia is completely mind-blowing. No words could really do Angkor Wat any justice, it is a place that must be experienced to fully appreciate.
Yes, it is a long flight, but it is totally worth it. Not only do you get beautiful beaches, swaying palms, plumeria petals, and ukulele music, but arriving is a breeze. You do not need a passport, so there is no customs line to endure. In no time, you can have a lei placed around your neck and you’ll be sipping mai tais poolside while listening to relaxing Hawaiin tunes.
What I really appreciate about Hawaii is the ability to experience such a drastically different culture in my own country. In addition to the cultural perks of visiting Hawaii, the dramatic landscape is one of the most fascinating aspects of the islands. Mountains, volcanos, rain forests, oceans, waterfalls, and more await you when you visit The Rainbow State.
When I look back at my list, I think the list breaks down like this … Greece and Hawaii are my favorite vacation destinations, while Australia, Italy & Southeast Asia are my favorite travel destinations. Some trips are taken to relax and some trips are taken to explore. All of these destinations allow for relaxation and exploration, but Greece and Hawaii skew towards relaxation, while Australia, Italy, & Southeast Asia skew towards exploration. No matter what type of trip you are looking for, you can not go wrong with any on this list! Let me know if I can help you discover one of my favorite travel destinations.